Before beginning today’s post, a quick note about last Friday night’s concert: the whole thing came off smashingly. My buddy John and I gave a 90-minute performance at a coffee shop in Hartsville, South Carolina, Crema Coffee Bar, where we’ve played a number of such shows in the past.
This show was, easily, the most fun I’ve had playing this particular venue, our home-away-from-home in Hartsville. John and I took turns playing original tunes, and we both unveiled new selections, John debuting an Irish tragedy entitled “The Sailor,” and I introducing my latest irreverent comedy tune, “Private Lessons (Goth Chick).”
We also enjoyed an excellent turnout, which is not to be taken for granted. Live music doesn’t always have the appeal it once did, and sometimes promoting a show can come across as a bit needy—“please come listen to us!”—especially as everyone you know is in a band these days. Fortunately, our friends and fans were hugely supportive, and it seemed like a capacity crowd at the height of the show. A YUGE “thank-you” to everyone who came out.
My next tour stop is the Juggling Gypsy in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Friday, August 3, starting around 9 PM. You can learn more at www.tjcookmusic.com or on my Facebook page.
I’ve written a bit about space exploration and the formation of Space Force on this blog, and I’ve long been an advocate semi-publicly of expansion into space. Neil deGrasse Tyson wrote an essay in Foreign Affairs when I still subscribed to the globalist rag that had me jumping for joy. The essay, “The Case for Space,” is one of the best apologias written for the benefits we would reap from funding additional space exploration. Tyson is a poor political pundit, and his fanboyish acolytes are so annoying, they reflect poorly on him, but he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to space.
I’m a fiscal, as well as a social, conservative, but I’m all about spending gobs of government cash on space exploration—and colonization. I realize I’m committing the same error everyone does—“don’t spend my tax dollars… except on all this stuff I personally like or agree with”—but I see a role for the government in space exploration that makes sense constitutionally and functionally, in a way that, say, free bus fare for war widows isn’t.
Like Newt Gingrich—the other great modern essayist on space exploration—I see expansion into space as akin to westward expansion in the nineteenth century. There were a lot of hardy pioneers that took the risks and were “rugged individualists”—but the government granted generous loans and tracts of land to railroad companies to open up those lands. The government—largely Republican-controlled after the American Civil War—played a role in catalyzing western expansion.
Similarly, we see a mix of entrepreneurship and government support today, although the government seems bogged down in its usual bureaucratic inefficiencies, while the hot-shot mega-billionaire flyboys are taking the major risks. Nevertheless, Gingrich wrote over the weekend about this very topic, marking the 49th anniversary of the moon landing.
As usual, the Trump administration, as Gingrich writes, is thinking “big league” when it comes to space, and Vice President Michael Pence is heading up a revived National Space Council. The NSC is charged with exploring placing bases on the moon to reduce the costs of launches, which would be much more fuel-efficient in the moon’s reduced gravitational field (which is one-sixth that of Earth’s).
In a larger, cultural sense—since I’m not versed enough in the technical side of this subject, I’m deflecting to where I can bloviate on slightly more solid ground—I don’t understand the disinterest in, even hostility toward, space exploration. In general, I’m dismayed by the lack of pioneering derring-do and spirit in American culture today. Aren’t we descended from rugged frontiersmen and women who crossed oceans, forded rivers, climbed mountains, and endured dysentery to get here?
A few years ago, I stumbled upon one of those writers I love—a slightly fringe character who writes about weird, just-outside-of-the-mainstream topics. The author in question is James D. Heiser, a bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America and a founding member of the Mars Society, a group that aims to put Americans on Mars.
I first stumbled upon Heiser after reading a review of his book “The American Empire Should Be Destroyed”: Alexander Dugin and the Perils of the Immanentized Eschatology, which is about the titular figure, an eccentric, Rasputin-like character who advises Vladimir Putin in some capacity. That book led me to another Heiser work, Civilization and the New Frontier: Reflections on Virtue and the Settlement of a New World, a collection of essays—mostly his introductory remarks at various Mars Society annual conventions—about the settlement of Mars.
The basic argument is that the quest to settle new worlds will stretch Americans not just scientifically, but spiritually: in striving for the stars, we’ll cultivate the classical virtues that make civilization possible, and, in the process, reinvigorate our earthly civilization.
I believe there’s something to this thesis. Struggle—be it the struggle to survive on the hostile Martian plains, or to make ends meet here on Earth—breeds growth. Adversity is the heat that tempers the iron of the soul.
Space has much to offer: abundant natural resources, the thrill of discovery, hot alien babes (just kidding about that last one). But it also has the potential to inspire future generations of Americans to reach for the stars—both physically, and spiritually.